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Full text of "NightRider"

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own meaning and purpose, she supported the glowing and
weighty coils. But that night at the Burnham place, like
tonight, her head drooped, the weight seeming too great and
unrelenting.

What had she promised him? he asked himself tonight,
looking across the darkness to the lighted interior of the
room where she sat. Happiness, that was it. He had found
in her the promise of happiness, happiness as a thing in
itself, an entity separate from the past activities of his life.
Or rather, he had thought of that happiness, in so far as he
had thought at all of its relation to other things, as something
concealed, preciously, at the centre of his life, like the fruit
within the rind, the meat of the nut within the gross and
useless outer shell. What was the centre of his life? he
demanded of himself. He could not say.

Then he remembered that she had not promised him happi-
ness. That was what he had promised himself, generously,
looking at her, walking beside her across the eroded and
failing fields of the Burnham place, or sitting in the musty
parlour out there, with the clutter of knick-knacks and
mirrors around him and the smell of horsehair hi his nostrils.
She had promised him nothing, or, at least, only herself. He
had her, now. But what was she? She was a certain form,
certain words to which he was accustomed and which pre-
tended to tell him of some reality within herself. What that
was, what she truly was, he did not know.

Now, looking at her sitting there in the room, framed in
the lighted square of the window, he felt as he had felt when,
as a child, he had removed a picture-card from the stereop-
ticon apparatus to look at it as it was without the aid of the
lenses. Sometimes on Sunday afternoons, in winter, when he
was a child, he had lain on the floor with the glasses and the
stack of picture-cards, each with its duplicate scene. Through
the lenses, the card would show a rich, three-dimensional
little world, the figures of persons there seeming to stand up,
solid and vital in their own right, about to move about their
own mysterious businesses. It was a little world with light